News roundup, 1.20.21: Inauguration Day

Boise youth climate activists opened Inauguration Day with a public stand, calling on Democratic president Joe Biden to pass a Green New Deal. Sami Edge/Idaho EdNews

“The youth stand with the truth”

As the sun rose over the frosted city on inauguration day, a handful of high school climate activists hoisted yellow banners in front of the iconic Boise Depot.

“The Youth stand with the truth,” One said. The other: “Hey Biden, Green New Deal Now!!!”

The teens, some from Boise High and others from Capital High, wasted no time in staking their demands for the 46th president: They want a Green New Deal. They want action on climate change. And they want youth input taken seriously.

“We’re practicing democracy for real,” one student said, speaking into a camera. The group initially planned to stage its protest at the Idaho Statehouse, but moved to the Boise Depot in the event that Inauguration Day protestors might occupy the downtown Statehouse. Despite weeks of speculation about potential violent protests around the country, the Idaho state capitol was quiet on Wednesday morning.

A few cars honked as they passed the big-yellow banners on S. Capitol Blvd, drawing cheers from the teens. Handwritten signs in the grass read: “Biden Answers to Us” and “The Youth Got Biden Elected!”

Petra Hoffman, a sophomore at Boise High, was feeling hopeful on Wednesday morning.

“I’ve been angry, in attack mode for the past four years,” Hoffman said. In the next four, she’s looking forward to getting things done, like “finding a seat at the table” for young  people passionate about climate change and social justice.

Quiet morning at the Idaho Statehouse

It was a quiet morning under blue skies Wednesday at the Idaho Statehouse. Photo by Clark Corbin.

Wednesday was a quiet, normal morning at the Idaho Statehouse as the inauguration unfolded more than 2,000 miles away in Washington, D.C.

No crowds or large groups of protestors assembled in the morning, normal committee meetings took place as scheduled and the Statehouse remained open and unlocked like any other day.

During their floor session, members of the Idaho House didn’t dwell on the Inauguration Day ceremonies and the transition of power at the White House.

The Senate was a bit more contemplative, with several members respectfully discussing Inauguration Day and elections.

“We will take the victories and the losses knowing we are not forever winners and we are not forever losers,” Sen Grant. Burgoyne, D-Boise, said. “When we look at these elections they can come back around so fast.”

“Today is a historic day, a day we celebrate the peaceful transfer of power, which is fundamental to our democracy,” Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, said from the Senate floor.

Lee, who is assistant majority leader, led the Idaho Senate on the floor Wednesday.

Lee said she felt honored, noting it was the first time since the early 1990s that a woman has led the Senate floor.

Then, three women from two different parties — Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, and Lee worked together on the motion to adjourn the floor session for the day.

There were no large crowds Wednesday and the Statehouse remained open as usual. Photo by Clark Corbin.

House Education Committee set to consider bill, open up remote testimony.

The House Education Committee will turn its focus to writing and debating bills, with the first piece of proposed legislation up for introduction Thursday and remote public testimony expected to begin next week.

The transition signals the committee is moving to developing and vetting new policies after spending the early days of the session reviewing administrative rules.

The first bill up for an introductory hearing Thursday has to do with charter school funding and is being brought by Suzanne Budget, a lobbyist who works with charter schools.

Assuming the committee votes to introduce it, the bill could come back for a public hearing Monday.

Chairman Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, said he will accept remote testimony during the public hearing over Zoom. Everyone who wants to testify, including those planning to testify in person and those who will use Zoom, will need to sign up in advance through the Legislature’s website, Clow said.

Clow said he will limit the length of testimony two or three minutes per person and may limit the number of people who can testify depending on time constraints.

Remote testimony is one of the steps legislators are taking to allow more people to follow and participate in this session amid the coronavirus pandemic. Although the committee has dabbled in offering remote testimony in past sessions, that process hasn’t been widely used before this year.

Committee members had several questions for Clow about how remote testimony will work and where priority will be given. He said there may be some bumps in the road.

“We need to educate the public if they want to testify in person they need to go online and register,” Clow said.

“The process is going to be a learning curve,” he added.

Even though the committee is moving on to considering bills, it still has unfinished work on administrative rules. Earlier this week the committee voted to delay action on a pending enrollment rule until Feb. 3.

 

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